Funding ‘debacle’ for thousands of community workers results in Senate inquiry

The Senate has supported an inquiry into the shambolic DSS grants process

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Some positive news for not-for-profit organisations and community workers this week, with the Senate launching an inquiry into the Department of Social Service’s (DSS) ‘shambolic’ grants program.

Following $271m of funding cuts to the community sector last year, the process to apply for the remaining DSS funding left hundreds of community organisations uncertain about their ongoing funding past February this year, and thousands of community sector jobs in limbo.

The Senate inquiry will look at a broad range of issues, including a review of the ongoing delays to funding announcements, dreadfully timed cuts to essential services, and drawn-out contract negotiations for hundreds of community services.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, who led the call for the inquiry, said in a statement:

“The grants application process introduced by the Government is a debacle that has left seismic shockwaves through community services . . . There is a great deal of uncertainty and confusion about the grants process with community organisations nation-wide . . . This undermines the ability of the community sector to support their clients and to deliver services to the community.”

“The inquiry will thoroughly examine the Government’s decision making process and the way they have gone about delivering these significant and harmful cuts. The inquiry will examine the impact of these cuts on the service quality, efficiency and sustainability of the sector, as well as the ability of organisations to properly advocate on behalf of their clients.”

The Senate inquiry is welcoming written submissions, giving organisations that employ thousands of community workers an opportunity to raise their concerns about the grants process and its impact on services and employees.

Submissions are due by March 20 – we’ll keep you posted as to the outcome of the inquiry in the coming months.